City Embraces Design Innovation to Improve Service Delivery

SmartCape in +100 Libraries

Cape Town’s Exex Deputy Mayor, Ian Neilson, looked back on innovations in to improve service delivery.

"2014 has been a big year for the City of Cape Town as we have recommitted to serving the residents of our city. No longer an administration that simply ‘works FOR you’, we have realised that it is only with the buy-in of our residents, who need to work WITH us, that we can make progress possible, together", says Exex Deputy Mayor, Ald Ian Neilson,.

"Innovation means different things to different people. For the City of Cape Town, our main focus is on transformative innovation – changes that we have made not for change’s sake, but in order to make a real difference to the way this administration is able to support this city and its residents.

This year we have both initiated and improved upon projects to make this a reality."

Cape Town Green Map highlights some of these innovations.

As one of the World Design Capital projects, the City is committed to improving broadband access for those poorly served with broadband connectivity and to bringing sustainable Wi-Fi access to previously under-serviced communities.

The broadband network has to date:
•    Saved the City R117 million in costs
•    Increased the City’s internal internet speed 3 000 times
•    Connected 43 Western Cape Government Buildings and 141 City buildings (set to increase)
•    Licensed eight third-party service providers, with another 20 planned

The City of Cape Town has, this year, concluded the first agreements with service providers who have taken up the spare infrastructure capacity generated via the City’s broadband network. This is a significant step forward in realising the City’s vision of facilitating access to a high-speed broadband network. This will in turn help drive economic growth and development and forms part of the City’s broader commitment to building an opportunity city in which progress is made possible for all residents and businesses.

The City of Cape Town understands that broadband connectivity is fundamental to creating an enabling environment for economic growth, business development and digital inclusion.

Against this backdrop the City set aside R222 million over three years towards the roll-out of broadband infrastructure throughout the metro, which is part of the City’s R1,3 billion programme which is needed to complete this task over the next seven years.

To date, lease agreements have been concluded with eight third-party licensed network operators, and negotiations are progressing with 20 more, including some of the country’s larger telecoms companies.

The conclusion of these agreements is part of this City’s commitment to bridging the digital divide between underserviced communities and those with high levels of digital access.

Digital access has often previously been out of reach for a number of communities. As a caring and inclusive city, the City of Cape Town understands the importance of digital connectivity as a tool for economic and social upliftment. The City’s SmartCape project has been in place for a number of years and has this year, as a WDC2014 project, made significant strides. To date we have provided more than 300 000 users with free access to computer and internet facilities at City libraries.

A SmartCape corner has been introduced in each of the more than 100 libraries across the city. In some areas, the facility is available at community centres, which reflects the programme’s adaptability to fit the particular community needs by making use of existing infrastructure. The project has been so effective that the City was presented with the Access to Learning Award by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Registered users are allowed one session per day for a maximum of 45 minutes, unless otherwise arranged with the administrator. The time limit helps to manage the high demand for the facilities, especially after school.

The SmartCape initiative has been successful in providing opportunities for scholars doing research for projects, job seekers looking for employment opportunities, entrepreneurs starting up their own ventures and marketing a business, and parents accessing health and wellness information.

The e-mailing of invoices has been an ongoing exercise and the number of customers requesting that their municipal invoices be e-mailed to them has steadily increased in 2014 – quite appropriate, given that e-services is a WDC2014 project. Comparative averages indicate that more customers registered for e-billing due to the recent postal strike. This bodes well in respect of the strategic intent which is cost saving in terms of postage, printing and reducing the City’s carbon footprint.

The number of invoices being e-billed is now 82 000. The number of E-services registrations is 19 500.

The number of invoices billed by the City on a monthly basis is approximately one million.

Residents are encouraged to make use of the convenient e-mailing and e-services option available to them by simply logging on to and clicking on the e-services icon to register for these services.

TCT app
Presenting the commuter with all the available scheduled public transport options and those in private vehicles with various routes for reaching their destinations, the new TCT app has made it significantly easier for residents and visitors to move around the city.

The development of this app is indicative of the City’s commitment to cutting-edge technological solutions in times of increasing urbanisation where mobility is crucial if we are to realise our full potential. It also creates a platform for the City and the residents to communicate with one another about transport-related issues.

The system maps of all the scheduled public transport services across the city – from the MyCiTi bus service, to Metrorail and the Golden Arrow Bus Service (GABS) – are available on the app. These maps specify each service provider’s routes, stations and stops.

The TCT app will enable those using private transport to plan their journeys by offering different route options – indicating the distance to the destination, the estimated travel time, and any matters of concern along the route such as accidents, roadworks, detours, and traffic delays.

Further to the convenient journey planning function, the TCT app will enable users to report transport-related matters such as potholes, faulty traffic lights, flooding, accidents and bad driver behaviour directly to the City. The exact location can be easily recorded if the GPS is on and the user will have the option of attaching a photo with the message to the City.

Through this app, users will also have immediate access to notifications about bus and train delays; service interruptions; accidents; roadworks; road closures; or any other transport-related issue that may have an impact on their journey.

Shark Spotters
Shark Spotters is a pioneering shark safety programme which continued successfully in 2014 and even picked up an Eco-logic award. The programme has attracted international and local attention because of the novel way it seeks to find a solution to potential conflicts between sharks and people.

Adopted by the City in 2004 in response to a spate of shark bite incidents and increased shark sightings, Shark Spotting is now the primary shark safety programme used in Cape Town.

Shark Spotters improves beach safety through both shark warnings and emergency assistance in the event of a shark incident. It contributes to research on shark ecology and behaviour, raises public awareness about shark-related issues, and provides employment opportunities and skills development for shark spotters.

The City has also achieved great success with its ground-breaking shark exclusion net at Fish Hoek Beach. Exclusion nets have been used in other parts of the world, but never before have they been designed to be deployed and retrieved on a daily basis. This method was selected by the City in 2012 in an attempt to reduce the potential impact of the net on marine life.

Wallacedene taxi rank
In August this year, the City unveiled the first ‘green’ transport facility in South Africa that generates its own electricity, enabling it to operate off the electricity grid. The Wallacedene taxi rank is the first public transport facility in the country to be regarded as a ‘green’ building from its very foundation to the rooftop. It is largely self-sufficient in all its energy needs and saves thousands of litres of water through clever design.

The City of Cape Town is extremely proud to be at the forefront of combining intelligent architectural design and technology in our effort to improve service delivery to our residents. The Wallacedene taxi rank sets the benchmark for future public transport facilities in the country, showcasing the City’s commitment to conservation and innovation.

This taxi rank uses a rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) panel system, arrayed at optimum orientation to the sun, for its electricity generation. It is equipped with 24 large batteries for the storage of reserve solar electricity to be used at night or on cloudy days. From the LED lights under the roof, to the electronic gates at the entrance and the hydro-boils in the kitchen, everything is powered by this PV system.

In fact, since 1 August 2014, this facility only needed one hour’s worth of electricity from Eskom (this is an Eskom supply area) which we believe was needed only because the contractors used power tools on site during the final construction phase.

It is estimated that the capital cost of this solar installation will be recovered within six to 10 years in monthly energy cost savings.

In designing this taxi rank, the City’s architects have also taken into consideration the huge demand for water at this site for the washing of taxis. Thus, the taxi rank was designed in such a manner that it can be self-sufficient in meeting its basic water needs: firstly through the harvesting of rainwater and secondly by recycling up to 70% of the water used at this facility through an underground filtering and reclamation system.

This water savings system is to the benefit of residents, the City and taxi operators alike: potable water will be conserved and there will be a considerable reduction in monthly water bills (which could amount to savings of approximately 40%), thereby ensuring the future sustainability of the taxi rank washing bay.

The City anticipates that, once the rating process is concluded, the Wallacedene public transport facility will achieve a four-star rating from Green Star South Africa, a rating system used by the Green Building Council of South Africa to measure how green buildings are.

There are full flush toilets at the facility, recycling bins, as well as loading bays for the operators and benches for commuters who are waiting for the next available taxi.

Furthermore trading opportunities have been created for local entrepreneurs with the provision of six informal trading bays and two kiosks just outside the facility.

Ocean View stone houses
2014 saw the first residents benefit from the Ocean View Stone House project – an innovative housing project which used the abundant Table Mountain sandstone found on the site in the construction of affordable, resource-efficient, solid and comfortable homes for qualifying beneficiaries in the area.

The Ocean View stone village housing project has been hailed as an example of finding unique and sustainable solutions to the city's housing challenges. It also has numerous environmental, skills development and job creation spin-offs.

The project is pro-community, pro-skills training, consultative, ecologically responsive, pro-heritage and highlights training as a process integral to sustainable development.

This project illustrates that it is possible to drive the provision of housing differently. Our aim was to use this development as a platform for skills development in stonemasonry, bricklaying, plumbing, carpentry, electrical installations and other sought-after skills which empowered local residents and encouraged the growth of micro-enterprises, thus serving the wider region.

With the Ocean View project, the City realised it was afforded a significant opportunity to deviate from conventional housing delivery models and innovate for sustainability. The site contained abundant building materials, and there was a chance to construct aesthetically-pleasing, solid, quality homes as opposed to standard subsidised homes. The project then became an opportunity to maximise social benefits and minimise environmental damage.

The project has resulted in an estimated R6 million reduction in transport costs of stockpiled material from the bulk earthworks, while the funds that would have been spent on the purchase and transportation of bricks have been channelled into skills development.

The project is part of the World Design Capital programme and is a sterling example of how design-led thinking is changing our city.

Bellville green building
The City’s new Electricity Services head office in Bellville has this year been recognised by the Green Building Council of South Africa with a four-star rating as the first municipal building to adhere to design, construction and management best practice in terms of resource efficiency.

With its eco-friendly and innovative design, it breaks the mould not only aesthetically, but also in terms of the impact it has on the environment.

Notable features of the building include an air conditioning system that achieves a 150% improvement on the requirements set out in the South African national standards for energy efficiency, without compromising the comfort levels of staff. Additionally, the building has been designed to promote the use of natural light, and maximise views to the outside with curved facades. Sun louvres protect the curtain wall glazing from heat gain, and blinds have been installed throughout the facility so that comfortable lighting levels can be maintained.

In addition, smart lighting controls, motion sensors and timers linked to the building management system have been installed. This system is calibrated to automatically turn lights off when need be or when no motion is detected, while also adjusting the level of lighting according to the amount of daylight coming into the building. Artificial lighting is almost superfluous as the building is configured around a central glazed atrium that introduces natural light to the offices.

Moreover, 400 solar panels have been installed to help reduce the energy consumption of the building. On average, these panels generate approximately 156 800 kWh per year.

Further reducing the building’s carbon footprint is the rooftop garden, as well as outdoor seating and recreational areas. Importantly, it was landscaped using indigenous, water-wise plants that grow naturally in the area.

The plumbing system has been split into black and grey water discharges to enable the waste streams to be split for different treatment processes. A grey water recycling system has also been incorporated into the building design to reduce potable water use for flushing of toilets and urinals. The filtration process is fully automated and uses a chemical-free treatment method.

In terms of the materials used, the furniture, fittings, finishes and building fabric were carefully selected to minimise emissions. In addition, all timber products used are sourced from reused and Forest Stewardship Council-certified timber.

Smoke detection technology
The City has invested in the use of smoke technology to detect illegal stormwater/sewer cross-connections. The total savings from this roll-out are likely to exceed R35 million.

The Water and Sanitation Department’s first trial of new smoke testing technology was a roaring success. Testing was conducted in various parts of the city and under different conditions to determine the system’s efficacy. This technology will now be used to detect illegal or unsanctioned stormwater discharges into the sewerage system.

The Water and Sanitation Department’s first trial of new smoke testing technology was a roaring success. Testing was conducted in various parts of the city and under different conditions to determine the system’s efficacy. This technology will now be used to detect illegal or unsanctioned stormwater discharges into the sewerage system.

The introduction of the smoke testing technology represents a significant step forward for the City, and is likely to result in significant savings for the ratepayer. Preliminary estimates indicate that maximum savings could be in the region of R36,5 million.

This new method of detection involves pumping smoke into the local sewerage system to locate inappropriate ingress of stormwater into the sewerage system. Previously it was not possible to detect or pinpoint where this was taking place without canvassing a large number of properties (properties to which access may have been difficult). Now Water and Sanitation Department officials can simply walk down the street and note the location of these cross-connections based on the presence of plumes of smoke.

Where it is found that illegal/unsanctioned connections exist, the property owners will be provided with a compliance order to rectify the matter within a stipulated period, failing which a fine will be issued in terms of the City of Cape Town’s Wastewater By-law.

Illegal connections are problematic in that, especially during wet weather, the presence of excess water can stretch the capacity of the City’s wastewater conveyance systems. Not only can this result in overflows, but the City’s wastewater treatment plants are being forced to process water that otherwise should not have been treated. Limiting the amount of water that is unnecessarily treated every year will improve the quality of effluent that enters the environment.

Not only will the environmental and cost saving benefit be significant, but unpleasant overflows which could cause health issues and discomfort will also be limited.